I love politics (I do realize that there aren't many people like me) and a history buff who also likes nothing better than watching a live comedy.
It's my ears you see. They are always seemingly tuned and switched on to catch two very different but to me, rather annoying words. I'm sure people don't say them as much as I think, but within certain circles they always crop up. The words are pilates and skiing. Perhaps it's something to do with my working class background and let's be honest, everything in England has something to do with class. But when I hear an invariably middle class or posh accent say "I'm going to my pilates class this evening", I cringe. What is pilates anyway? No don't tell me I don't actually want to know what. I never want to know. What the well healed do of an evening is up to them. I do know however know what skiing is. I've watched far too much James Bond not to know, but to go skiing myself? No, I don't think so. Not my thing, too many middle class friends talk about it, and thus perhaps bizarrely, something inside me says I don't want to know about it?
I should have guessed that skiing was going to get a look in at the Austria House Tirol at Trinity House - one of the over 19 team hospitality houses across London. On arrival it was pretty obvious they loved the sport and were probably even taught to ski before they could walk. That and yodelling, which I discovered was devised so two hunters could communicate across the mountains, the yodel of one apparently being repeated by the yodel of the other. There was quite a lot of yodelling during my visit. The blaring pop music, which meant you could hear the House of Austria, before you could see it, was often halted for a hearty bit of yodelling on the fake snow of a recreated Alpine Ski Resort.
They looked like they knew how to enjoy themselves in Austria House. Had my mind be tuned into beer and skiing, I think I would have loved it as well, but I'm a bit of an old romantic and was thinking of that wonderful film the Sound of Music and the song "Climb every mountain". I liked hiking and in Austria House the information stalls had plenty of leaflets of where I could stay on my hiking quest for a Julie Andrew look alike, as well as a stand of Austrian different breads and cakes which you could take a nibble of. An hour then passed and I'd soon had my fill of yodelling, Austrians cheering at the TV screen and big wide Austrian smiles. Time to move on to the house of their German cousins.
There's so much going on in London during the Olympics. It's impossible to find something that doesn't interest you or distract you from your original plans. It was thus not until July the 31st that I eventually walked into the German House that was situated in what would normally be the Museum of Docklands, near West India Quay Station. I was by now getting used to visiting these houses and seeing a massive TV screen on the wall the House of Germany was no exception and like Austria, they were consuming lots of beer.
There was due to be live music later, but I wasn't going to wait around for that. This was the house of Germany, the great powerhouse of Europe that had created the likes Goethe and Beethoven, but you wouldn't know it by entering. Having the staff dress up in traditional German costume would have made such a difference to the atmosphere, but as it was, the place just looked very mediocre and like any large bar on any large holiday camp anywhere in Europe, with people sitting around uninterested in each other and even by being there.
Could even have been England. But then I guess we are the same, the Germans and the English. On some level I think we even went to war because we saw ourselves in our enemy and didn't like what we saw. We then attacked ourselves. Two world wars weren't really wars at all, they were acts of self harm on a truly horrific scale.
Both German and Austria Houses open until August 12th.